J&K: Kulgam youth joins ranks of Hizbul Mujahideen, mother appeals for safe return

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Reported By Wahid Bhat

SRINAGAR, 8 October : As Jammu & Kashmir votes in the municipal polls being held after 13 years, in yet another incident of Indian youth joining militancy, a 22-year-old man from South Kashmir’s Kulgam has joined the ranks of Hizbul Mujahideen. The youth identified as Shoaib Mohammad Lone had left his home in the beginning of October, for college, but did not return.

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The news about Shoaib joining militancy was confirmed after his photo holding an AK-47 went viral on social media eight days after he went missing. Reports suggest that following the incident, senior Army leadership visited his family in South Kashmir. Meeting Lone’s family members, the senior army officer assured them of making all efforts for his safe return. He also requested the members of the family to come forward and contribute in their efforts.

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An engineering student, Shoaib was raised by his mother after his father had passed away even before his birth. In a video, Shoaib’s mother can be seen appealing to his son to return home. “I have no one other than Shoaib and I request you to send him back to me,” Shoaib’s inconsolable mother is seen saying repeatedly.

There has been a rise in youth joining militancy in Kashmir since the killing of Burhan Wani, who was gunned down by security forces in 2016. While south Kashmir has been the breeding ground for militant recruitment, reports also suggest that there has been a jump in recruitment from Central and north Kashmir. The Army had in August arrested four youth near the Line of Control in a bid to cross over to Pakistan, just a day after they posted photos of them joining militant group Al Badar.

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Earlier this week, the Army had in a press conference said that over 200 militants were readying to infiltrate the LoC. General Operations Commanding of Srinagar based 15 corps while briefing media in Keran, however, said the soldiers are ready to give “befitting reply to foil all the attempts of infiltration”.

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